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As winter grey settles in across central Illinois, local bookworms may be looking for some wintry adventures to have from the warmth of their favorite reading nook. I recently read two great historical fiction titles that offer thrilling cold-weather tales combined with life-and-death stakes.

Here, poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who teaches at New York University, shows us a fine portrait of the hard life of a worker — in this case, a horse — and, through metaphor, the terrible, clumsy beauty of his final moments.

In Betty Culley’s novel in verse, “Three Things I Know Are True” (HarperTeen 2020), teenage Liv will not give up on her older brother, Jonah, who accidentally shot himself in the head with a gun belonging to his best friend’s father.